December 22, 2015

Feature: Rabbi Johnston

Feature: Rabbi Johnston
Dina Doctoroff ‘18

From inspiring her students to screening Doctor Who, Rabbi Johnston does it all.
Johnston has come a long way since her days at Pomona College in Claremont, California. She first developed an interest in Judaics when she was in college and attributes this interest to her professors and her year in Israel.
Before she came to Golda Och Academy, Johnston was a congregational rabbi and a community organizer for seven years. When she finally came to GOA, she fell in love with the school.
“The students are just really serious,” she said. “There’s a lot of creativity and a lot of imagination. There’s a lot of depth in what the students are able to do and my colleagues are amazing... totally amazing.”
Clearly, Johnston enjoys her job and is thankful for the community at school, as she recognizes working at GOA often feels like quite a luxury.
“Not everyone gets to come in to a place where people are really glad to see you and they say ‘good morning’ and notice when you are sick,” Johnston said. “Those kinds of things make a real community here and that’s super cool.”
Not only does Johnston enjoy the community, but the community enjoys her as well. Junior Kim Robins had a lot to say when talking about her classes with Rabbi Johnston.
“My favorite memory from Rabbi Johnston’s class was second semester of last year, when I took Bioethics with her,” she said. “At the end of the year, honors students presented about a topic of their choosing and students covered some really interesting issues.”
Robins also enjoys the fact that the curriculum is centered around the students and isn’t just a basic curriculum.
Freshman Ilana Feldman shares Robins’ views, adding that the classes are very educational and the topics are interesting. She especially liked discussing the Jewish view on birth control in Bioethics class and watching Doctor Who.
Johnston is especially fond of the memories she made at the school, saying that she has quite a few. For example, at the end of class one time, she received a standing ovation for her teaching.
Another incredible memory was when a parent came to her individually, giving her thanks for recognizing her daughter’s talents. Johnston said that this girl was creative and thought outside of the box and sometimes if you are that kind of person, school can be hard for you.
When asked about a piece of advice she would give her students, Johnston said to not worry about grades so much­; just worry about what you love learning.

From her students’ apparent enjoyment in her classes, it seems as though the students will have no problem fostering a love of learning.

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